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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

do your best, let god do the rest

i observe time and time again that folks who are committed to one particular version of god have not taken the time to study the other stories that are out there in the world.  example.  a well-versed and confident christian knows every stitch of the new testament, every word that jesus has uttered and most likely has well-thought-out opinions about spirituality based on those amazing teachings offered by christ.  but if you ask that same christian about buddhist dharma, the koran or lessons taught in the bhagavad gita, 9 times out of 10 they will not be able to tell you what these concepts entail, or even a broad definition of what these things are.

there's a children's book by nathaniel hobbie called "priscilla and the pink planet".  priscilla is born and raised on this planet where everything is pink - houses, flowers, grass, even oranges.  she begins to question her monochrome environment and decides to set out on a search for another color.  finally she comes across a butterfly covered in magnificent shades of everything...  she's amazed and shocked b/c she's never seen anything other than pink.  suddenly a great queen appears with a net and snares the butterfly, promising priscilla that this "awful creature" will be locked underground with all of the other colorful things.  priscilla thinks carefully.  she politely argues to the great queen, "if all colors were out for the wide world to see, pink would look even pinker.  don't you agree?"  the queen has a change of heart, sees the light so to speak.  she releases the imprisoned colors and priscilla leaps home in bliss, enjoying her new, diverse and colorful world.

of course when my kids read this book they see an adventurous little girl going out to indulge in curiosity and discover something exciting.  when i read it, i see it as a great metaphor for religious and spiritual awareness.  if a christian wants jesus to look even jesusier, wouldn't it make sense to explore other faiths?  how can one argue that jesus is the only way to salvation when one doesn't know about the other paths of devotion?  all of these paths lead to heaven - even the path of the skeptic and the non-believer.  every life is sacred because a terrifically beautiful soulful energy lives in us all.  no exceptions.

so whether you are buddhist or hindu or muslim or christian, i encourage you to investigate the wisdom of other religions, if you have not done so already.  i think you will amazed by common themes, phrasing and messages that run through each.  as for me, right now i'm reading the bhagavad gita.  it's awesome.  it is THE yogi text, a classic indian scripture relaying a battlefield conversation between sri krishna and a warrior named arjuna.  the title translates to "song of the lord" and i'm finding that it's just that.

my copy is translated by a man named eknath easwaran.  his translation is gorgeous and his introduction is incredibly well-written.  i was reading and rereading and rereading a portion of the introduction last night, excitedly sharing this new shift of consciousness with my husband.  i want to share it with you today...

from the gita:  "you have the right to work, but never to the fruit of work.  you should never engage in action for the sake of reward, nor should you long for inaction.  perform work in this world, arjuna, as a man established within himself - without selfish attachments, and alike in success in defeat.  for yoga is perfect evenness of mind."

there were a few things i got excited about with this.  first, the way easwaran followed the excerpt with gandhi's interpretation:  "by detachment i mean that you must not worry whether the desired result follows from your action or not, so long as your motives are pure, your means is correct.  really, it means that things will come right in the end if you take care of the means and leave the rest to Him."

isn't this a load off?  the pressure for success or the fear of failure is not ours to bear!  what a relief!!!  our part of the bargain is that we commit with a pure heart to whatever it is we want to commit to, and god will be responsible for the outcome.  no matter how hard we try, we cannot change what is meant to be.  this reminds me of something my friend BD, a devout catholic, used to say - something his mom taught him.  "do your best and let god do the rest."  when i first heard him say it, i honestly thought it was a little corny, but i see clearly now.  and i see the beauty of the simple rhyme.  i actually have the saying written down on a little piece of paper and slip it into my kids' lunch boxes occasionally.

this theme is also evident in buddhism and reflected in a line written by deepak chopra in his novel "buddha".  "winning and losing are the same.  both are nothing."  here in lies the detachment.  it is not to say that we should give up or be complacent, just that we should not be so focused on the end result.  because it's not the result that matters.  the learning and growing occur in the process.

my journey as of late has led me to, amongst other things, practicing hot yoga.  as expected when reading a text like the gita, i discover countless ways to apply its lessons into physical manifestation over 90 quiet minutes in a sweaty yoga class.  my yoga practice is a physical demonstration of staying present in the moment, trying my hardest to master a pose - sometimes with precision, sometimes ending in a clumsy heap on the floor.  whatever the result, the reward rests deeply and peacefully in the journey.

peace, love, gratitude,

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